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Remember Good Will Hunting?–Specifically, do you remember the character Will Hunting? Let me refresh your memory: While at a bar with his loyal Southie friends, he notices a pretentious Harvard student trying to make his friend (Ben Affleck) look stupid in front of a group of attractive girls. Will comes to his friend’s aid. After kicking this arrogant bastard’s ass intellectually, he offers the following bit of wisdom:
The sad thing is in about 50 years you’re going to start doing some thinking on your own, and by then you’ll realize there are only two certainties in life … One don’t do that. Two, you dropped $150 grand on an education you could have received for $1.50 in late charges at the public library
After embarrassing this smug Harvard student, Will adds, “And if you got a problem with that, maybe we can step outside and deal with it that way.” (Damon, Matt; Affleck, Ben; Good Will Hunting: 1997) That scene truly reflects the many talents and virtues of Southie. It says, “Yes, I’m an intellectual, but I’m a fighter too. And my loyalty to my friends is absolute.” It is a loyalty that grows from the empathic/survivalist nature of Southie folks–people whose cultural roots are planted firmly in Ireland, so much so that we often jest that South Boston is the western-most county of Ireland.
Is this character merely a fictional character? Is it possible that the “genius old school Southie kid” has a non-fictional counterpart?
Of course, a lot of outsiders will say no. To these folks, one is stereotyped as an idiot when they either detect a “Southie accent” or hear one say, “I’m from Southie–I and 8th St.”
There are folks who will cite sociological reasons that a non-fictional Will Hunting is a fantasy. They will cite socioeconomic reasons. And they will cite cultural reasons. And they are wrong.
Anyone that knows Southie, knows that our culture is the reason why we not only survived, but thrived.
Oppressed by the English at home, the Irish diaspora began a great migration to Boston. There is but one reason why Boston and many other parts of the country claim Irish ancestry: The Irish Famine. The Irish people literally starved. The English iniquitously deprived the Irish of the crops that the Irish themselves farmed and harvested. The English brought the food home to England, and left the Irish starving to death.
The Irish Famine Memorial – Boston
Thus is the genesis of the prominent Irish diaspora in Massachusetts (Plymouth County still has the highest concentration–outside of Ireland–of those with Irish ancestry); the diaspora that took “blue-blooded” Boston by storm; the diaspora that mastered the blood-sport of Boston politics; the diaspora that within a couple of generations, proudly elected one of their own as President of The United States: President John F Kennedy.
In my office, there is an authentic sign that reads, “No Irish Need Apply.” There is a simple reason I keep that sign on display. It motivates me. Oppression is the great motivator. And the oppression of the Irish, both in Ireland and in America, affected our culture immensely. We had to work harder; we had to study harder; we were inculcated by our parents and grandparents with the belief that hard work and education cut the key to freedom.
With cultural beliefs such as these, one can theorize that Will Hunting from Southie is a non-fictional character. But we do not need to speculate when one can cite the multiplicity of Will Huntings from Southie.
Let’s start with Senator Joseph Moakley: a man from the Old Harbor Housing Projects in Southie (today it is often called Mary Ellen McCormick). Moakley grew up in public housing and fought for his country in World War II, even though he did not have to–he lied about his age when he enlisted.
He went on to graduate from Suffolk Law School (Suffolk Law School named their new library after The Honorable Joseph Moakley). He was a state representative, a state senator, and then a Congressman who labored his whole career for the working man, never forgetting the oppression in the collective Irish memory.
The talent of folks from Southie is all-encompassing. Although we do have numerous political heroes, we have sports heroes too. For instance, Southie is home to the first winner of an Olympic Gold Medal in 1500 years, James Connolly. He won the triple jump.
Stanley Cup Champion, Brian Noonan, is also from Southie’s housing projects. Never forgetting where he first got his start, after winning the cup, he brought it to Southie’s Murphy Rink, where I got to behold the most cherished trophy in sports. His gesture made every Southie hockey player believe in himself and herself.
“Wait,” you’re saying, “Will Hunting is an intellectual genius. The people you listed are talented, but not one of them is a rocket scientist.” True. Let’s amend this careless oversight.
Southie is proud to call Eugene Lally a native son, and he is indeed a rocket scientist. He assisted NASA with their Apollo Programs and pioneered digital photography.
Southie folks are not just characters in movies–they are also Hollywood Actors. Brian Goodman became an actor after spending 20 years in prison. Authenticity is his hallmark. He actually included former “marks” (the drug dealers and underworld folks that he robbed) as characters in movies. Goodman’s filmography is incredible: Catch me If You Can, The Last Castle, The Fast and The Furious, etc. One could go on forever with his filmography.
The Irish are well-known for their talented writers: James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw. My hero Michael Patrick MacDonald belongs in that pantheon of great Irish writers.
MacDonald grew up in the Old Colony Projects in Southie. His book, All Souls – A Family Story From Southie, illustrates the great Southie paradox. Although there are many blessings bequeathed to the Southie’s young people, there are dark elements at play in this neighborhood.
Irish culture forged under the heavy yoke of English oppression had arrived in Southie. Souhie’s Irish diaspora suppresses painful memories and obfuscates the true past to “outsiders” (Freud said that the only race impervious to psychoanalysis is the Irish because of their propensity to keep their problems hidden).
However, the world is now aware of the dark elements at play in Southie. My family knew James “Whitey” Bulger, Senate President Bulger’s brother (one the most powerful gangster–the other the most powerful gangster) ended up becoming the FBI’s most wanted man. And not too long ago he made international news after getting caught in Santa Monica with hundreds of thousands of dollars and an arsenal of guns hidden in the walls of his apartment.
Organized crime is a scourge in ethnic, urban neighborhoods, especially black, Italian, and Irish neighborhoods. Each of these cultures faced violence and oppression from those that who were supposed to keep the peace and promote justice.
Speaking of social justice, Michael Patrick McDonald has done community work for every part of Boston suffering from violence, drug epidemics, or any type of despair. Michael Patrick MacDonald now spends his life trying to improve the lives of the working-poor people of Boston. He helped to start Boston Gun Buy Back Program. He is Writer and Residence at Northeastern. He is someone, as a firm believer in Jesuit Principles, that I emulate.
Southie is also the hometown of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, lyricist, and screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire. He won The Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 drama, Rabbit Hole. He hails from West 5th St.
Obviously, the Irish are prolific writers, and I cannot mention all of Southie’s writers.
The last two “Will Huntings” are special to me for different reasons, but I hold them both in the highest regard.
Speaker of The House John McCormack served in The United States House of Representatives from 1928-1971. He served in World War I. In 1940, he became House Majority Leader. “You’ll never get anything done without Democratic help,” he often yelled across the aisle to his Republican colleagues in the 1950’s during the Eisenhower Administration.
Any student of history or politics must note that during the passage of The New Deal Legislation, he was serving in the party leadership (the second highest-ranking Democrat). He became Speaker for 9 years, and the legislation passed under his Speakership makes for one of the finest legacies of any Speaker.
He was an early advocate of Civil Rights and the Speaker of The House when The Civil Right’s Act of 1964 was made law (I only wish that that the The self-professed liberals I’ve met who are so quick to generalize Southie as racists knew that it was under the auspices of our native son, John McCormack, that Civil Rights Laws were passed). Speaker McCormick also advocated for and signed laws protecting early education, health care, and elderly welfare. McCormack was a legislative giant who helped pass Great Society’s Reforms. After the assassination of President Kennedy, Speaker McCormack became next in line for the presidency.
The next giant that I am to mention comes from the housing project in Southie named after Speaker John McCormack’s mother, Mary Ellen McCormack. His name is Senate President William Bulger. He and most original Old Harbor families like mine would most likely call our neighborhood Old Harbor; although none of us forgot what the McCormack family did for us.
William Bulger is a true Jesuit-trained intellectual. At Boston College High School, by the time we graduate, we are ready to “be men for others.” In other words, we will spend our everyday to help those in need. And Senate President Bulger always heeded the virtues that The Jesuits taught him to strive for.
And after going to BC High, BC, and BC Law, earning the honorable title Triple Eagle, his Jesuit education was bound to influence the rest of his life. He became a public servant: First as Massachusetts State Rep, then State Senator. As state senator he was elected Senate President. He served from 1971-1994, which is the longest tenure ever held by someone in that position.
He was a political mastermind. But the reason folks love him still to this day is because of his renowned constituent service–another example of Southie’s loyalty and empathy at work. Bulger would field calls on his own and get back to people on his own. That is unheard of now in the Massachusetts State House. The proudest day of my life was when William Bulger, who graduated exactly 50 years before me at BC High, and ironically handed me my B.C. High diploma.
One would be hard-pressed to find such ubiquitous talent in a town of this size. Good Will Hunting should not be seen as a story about a genius whose Southie upbringing makes him an anomaly in a town that is bereft of talented people and intellectuals. Indeed, the opposite is true. Southie, a town with a culture influenced by the oppression of our ancestors; it is a town full of talent. But most importantly, Southie’s educated political leaders proved that a neighborhood of empathy and compassion underlies the rough exterior.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has developed a mythical status. So it might be difficult to imagine FDR getting stern criticism from both sides of the aisle. But at one point in his presidency, this was indeed the case. When he signed the cornerstone of the New Deal–Social Security–into law, The Right Wing called him communist. The Left Wing, of the opinion that it did not do enough, accused FDR of being a cop-out.
President Barack Obama is currently facing the same critiques FDR faced in the 1940’s . “This is socialism,” screams the right wing. “It doesn’t go far enough,” says the left wing. President Obama has received criticism from both sides of the aisle since the passage of The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). The president has been the target not just of mere civil criticism; he’s been the victim of egregious invective:
The magnitude, intensity, and obsession of rightist hatred of the president is unprecedented in the history of American politics because it has poisoned the ability of Republican leaders in Congress to work in good faith with a twice-elected American president … No American president should ever have to defend his Christianity and Americanism.
Bedowsky, Brent “The GOP’s Obama Problem” The Hill (2 April 13)
Theodore Roosevelt was the first president who attempted to promulgate national health insurance. His cousin FDR tried twice and failed both times. Truman tried passing a single universal comprehensive health care plan. Obama’s mere suggestion of such a Truman-like system unleashed the right wing attack dogs barking their favorite word: “Communist! Communist!” President Truman while fighting the Cold War against the Soviets, introduced the single universal comprehensive health plan. The Clinton Administration also tried a form of Universal Health Insurance and failed.
This battle was 100 years in the making. Our most revered presidents failed to pass this historic piece of legislation: TR, FDR, and Truman. President Obama, cognizant of the need for health care reform and the government’s responsibility to protect American lives, achieved a remarkable legislative victory by signing The Affordable Health Care Act into law.
The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) has been overlooked and overshadowed by the propagation of egregious lies, i.e., Obama is going to appoint death panels and kill Grandma.
I think most Americans believe in the that health care is a right associated with the right to life. I doubt there are many people out there who believe that we ought to let a person die of treatable cancer because the 3 part- time jobs he works does not offer insurance to part-time employees (although at a Republican Presidential Debate in Texas, when the candidates were asked whether a man without insurance should be left to die, a number of people yelled, “Let him die!”)
This is not how we treat our fellow citizens. We do not allow a mother to die to because her insurance company claims that her breast cancer is a pre-existing condition. Finally we elected a president with the courage and fortitude to battle a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry with billions of dollars to spend on lobbying efforts, commercials, and public relations.
Yet your President stood up to these organizations of iniquity and said, “No, I represent the American people not you. And we are going to stop you from allowing more Americans to die just so you can continue to hand out billion dollar parachutes to people whose job it is to figure out how to get out of paying the medical treatment of a dying American.”
The insurance companies could not intimidate or “buy off” President Obama. And of course they threatened him: they poured money into the Scott Brown Campaign in Massacusetts hoping to take away the Democratic super-majority. If we kept that super-majority, it would have forced these nefarious insurance companies to actually take a lesson in what capitalism is really all about: competition (How is it that America’s fascist movement, known as The Tea Party thinks that a competitive market economy is socialism? But, then again, look at the source). Insurance would have had to compete across state lines; they would have had to compete with a government program. The cost of health care would have dropped precipitously.
Despite Brown’s election, President Obama still pulled it off. He was able to end the corrupt business practices of health insurance companies: no more pre-existing condition refusals; an increase in preventative medicine; now kids can remain on their parents plan until after college; and 30 million more people are insured. In the long-run people will live longer healthier lives.
But this could of course all be a Pyrrhic victory now that The Koch Brothers’ in-house corporate attorney put our democratic-republic on its back with Citizens United.
(To be continued)
By Paul J Adams Jr
We will never have any earthly answers to the questions we have asked ourselves since the Boston Marathon Bombings last year. Why did a child and three young adults die violently at the hands of hate? Why did Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, and Officer Sean Collier die at the hands of unmitigated evil? Why were so many maimed? Why were Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev so full of hatred that in a paroxysm of violence they destroyed or changed forever so many lives?
It is doubtful that we will ever know the answer to these painful questions. And the lack of answers creates even more pain. It is in these moments we beg for omnipotence. We prayer so hard for the answer to the question: Why did my loved one die in such a violent tragedy? But we are human, and we may never know how to answer the question that makes our souls ache with the heaviness of injustice–a heaviness in our souls compounded with the hollowness of grief.
We turn to God. We ask God these questions. But God does not respond. God’s silence does not mean He is deaf to our prayers, or unaware of our suffering. God grieves with us. In my experience, words have done nothing to console my grief. The presence of a loved one is comforting. The silent presence of a loved one helps us keep our sanity during those miserable, painful nights–the nights that we cry ourselves to sleep. Remember, when facing those nights by yourself, you are not alone. God is with you. Be aware of His Grace and Love.
God has given us free will. God does not interfere with human actions. God did not take the lives of young Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, and Officer Collier. Most of us believe in a loving God. Jews and Christians refer to him as “father”. When the people asked Jesus how they should pray, he said, “Our Father”. We are his children. He wishes not for us to suffer. Surely he does not randomly take the lives of his children. He cannot interfere in humanity’s everyday behaviour. If he could, he would have saved 6 million Jews from dying in the Holocaust. He would have saved Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingnzi Lu, and Officer Sean Collier.
Do not blame God, but find solace in that God grieves with us; that he too lost his children to violence. God can give us the grace and love we need to overcome such tragedy. God can give us strength.
Moreover, God can help us overcome hatred. We know he advocates love. And in striving for this love, we can begin to overcome the violence human beings unleash on one another. Here we cannot help but to point out the wisdom of little Martin Richard. Engraved in my mind is his beautiful piece of art that tells humanity, “No More Hurting People! PEACE!”
Like the line in “Southie is my Hometown”, many South Bostonians (myself included) are “hot under the collar” about the ignoble decision to exclude The Veterans for Peace from marching in The Saint Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day parade. Ultimately, this day is about celebrating our veterans who sacrificed so much so that we may live in peace! It is disgraceful and dishonorable that these veterans–because of their advocation of peace–are banned from the parade. It makes one wonder why The Veterans for Peace are reproached by the parade’s architects?
These folks did not fight to propagate a militaristic culture in our country–a country that is always on war-footing or heavily involved in conflicts that are injurious to our national interest. Last decade’s foreign policy (The Bush Doctrine) has led to a decline in our power and influence in international affairs (I will not delve into the costly Iraq debacle and how it empowered our greatest enemies–maybe next time).
Why do we fight wars? It is so that we may live in a world where there is peace with justice. Sometimes there is peace, but justice is absent, and that may be cause for war. So we fight for both peace and justice. The motivating factor of our veterans and our current men and woman in uniform is to bring about peace and justice for the American People.
They do not wish to be on permanent war-footing. And the bane of this country since World War II has been the creation of the military-industrial complex that thrives in our nationalistic culture (unfortunately, our Saint Patrick’s Day Parade has become an example of that militaristic culture). Their must always be an enemy–a bogey-man. First it was the Soviet Union and communism; now it is al Qaeda and Islamic Fundamentalism.
We do have real enemies in the world. However, the military-industrial complex creates an irrational fear in the American People so that the arms manufacturers continue to get most of our tax dollars. In 2013, 57% of the president’s proposed discretionary spending went to defense. The United States is responsible for almost half of the world’s military spending at 48%.
We are on a permanent war footing, so that the CEO’s of companies like Boeing can continue to take most of our tax dollars in order to remain uber-rich. How is that not the redistribution of wealth that hawkish-conservatives hypocritically accuse Progressives of?
The Veterans for Peace bring a much-needed argument to the table, and they do so by innocuously calling for peace. But the powers that be that are victims of military-industrial propaganda–or perhaps, even more dangerously, they are sincerely nationalistic–unjustly ban The Veterans for Peace from our parade.
As aforementioned, 57% of proposed discretionary spending goes to the military whilst our education system continues to suffer, whilst our infrastructure falls apart, whilst the middle-class continues to disappear.
The biggest threat to our nation–to our superpower status–is the continuous neglect of our educational system and the middle-class–not al Qaeda, not Islamic fundamentalism.
We reached superpower status by investing in America’s infrastructure, by making college affordable through the promulgation of legislation like the GI Bill, which led to the formation of a strong middle-class protected by strong unions.
“Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.” Our national policies are a mirror reflection of the policies of the Romans in the last years of this great empire’s existence. In their death throws, most tax dollars were allocated to military defense spending, which led to an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. Rich Roman families fled and created their own independent fiefdoms to avoid taxation (call it an early form of tax sheltering).
America and our leaders do not seem to be students of history. If we were, we would already know what the result of our policies will be the collapse of our great American superpower status–a mirror image of the collapse of Rome.
We have a lot to learn from these Veterans for Peace. They are true patriots warning us of our eminent demise if we continue to financially ignore our domestic problems in order to redistribute the wealth to the wealthiest 1%.
Leaving them out of the parade is shameful. It is an attempt to propagate the military-industrial complex that the powers that be in South Boston subscribe to.
In 1957, The General Court (The MA state legislature), still made up mostly of WASP’s, decided that although they had lost their grip on City Hall, there was still a way to continue to wield power and influence in Boston. The legislature promulgated the BRA. It allowed the state to exercise power over urban development and gave these legislators carte blanche to apply eminent domain anywhere they saw fit.
The Anglo-led legislature exercised their new found power to destroy the West End. The West End was the most important neighborhood in Boston. The West End represented all that an inner-city neighborhood should be–a working-class neighborhood full of diversity. The ethnicities represented in this most-American of urban neighborhoods included African-Americans, Armenians, Greeks, Irish, Lebanese, Italians, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Syrians, Ukrainians and many other Eastern and Southern Europeans. The West End was a neighborhood that other neighborhoods could emulate–a neighborhood that truly represented the American belief in a melting pot society.
With the destruction of the West End, Boston became a segregated city with each neighborhood populated mostly by people of the same ethnicity. This unfortunately led to de facto segregation in Boston public schools. After the Supreme Court’s Brown decision, Boston was court ordered to desegregate their public school system. The families of the poorest white neighborhood, South Boston (consisting of the Old Colony Housing Projects, which, at that point, had the highest population of poor white people in the country) and the poorest black neighborhoods (places like Upham’s Corner and Dudley Square) had to send their children to schools in places that these families would not dare wander into under normal circumstances. In this bleak time in our city, a black person would never make it down Broadway in Southie without being harassed at best–beaten violently at worst. A white person from Southie walking down Blue Hill Ave. in Roxbury would most likely endure the same fate.
The period of forced busing in Boston is shameful, embarrassing, and by far the bleakest period in our city’s history: Rocks being thrown at children in buses; riots; stabbings. If it were only possible to erase this anomalous period in Boston’s history. Is this not the capital city of the state that first outlawed that most diabolical of institutions–the sin of slavery? Is Boston not the city where ordinary New England men fought the British regulars in order that a country based on the ideas of freedom and equality might exist? Is not The Commonwealth of Massachusetts the only state that guarantees education as a right? Boston: the home of the first public school system; the home of the abolitionist movement where white men were prepared to take arms against wicked slave catchers (it is said that the abolitionist movement started on Beacon Hill). Boston: the home of the only founding father–John Adams–to become president that did not own slaves and abhorred slavery as a sin. And then there was his son John Quincy Adams who represented the Africans who were bound for slavery in the Caribbean until they took over the ship and landed in America. This son of Boston (although some would call him a son of Braintree or Quincy; however, he lived and practiced law in Boston for years) argued in front of the Supreme Court and won the case, and won these men their rightfully deserved freedom. He spent his post-presidential congressional career railing against the iniquities of slavery much to the consternation of many of his fellow legislators. He proudly earned the hatred of his Southern colleagues.
Boston is the intellectual capital of the world. We are proud of–dare I say it–our liberal traditions. And the nadir of Boston history is the reaction of many Bostonians to busing. How can we not feel ashamed about this darkest period in our history?
On closer analysis, one can easily reach the the supposition that poor blacks and poor whites were the victims of a divide and conquer strategy. First the BRA destroyed the most diverse neighborhood in Boston, which lead to a segregated Boston. In this segregated Boston, we grew weary of each other. We did not experience each other’s cultures. Rather than living up to the American ideal of a melting pot society, we lived in a multi-cultural society (an example of a multi-cultural society is Canada where there are distinct francophone areas and a anglophone areas). Boston, for the first time in history, was not living according to American values. And for people who love the City of Boston and its history, this is discouraging because Boston has always been the paragon city of living according to our American ideals.
What would have happened if all Bostonians–black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay–worked together for a more progressive, inclusive, diverse Boston? Although I am proud of this city and the tremendous strides we have made, it is possible that we could be lightyears ahead of where we are now if it were not for busing and its ramifications.
However, one cannot help but be optimistic. Working class white people, black people, Hispanics, and gays from South Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, and the South End formed an unstoppable voting coalition to elect a truly progressive mayor–Mayor Walsh.
The election of Walsh is a cathartic experience for Boston. We are no longer divided by race; we are united as neighbors who are striving to once again make Boston that shining city on a hill. The color of our skin divides us superficially, while our progressive beliefs unite us spiritually. We are Bostonians, and therefore we are family.
Would that the beef were just old and not rancid. Your observation that Linehan’s resistance “reflected poorly on a city that has “moved ahead in terms of diversity,” is a classic example Globe dereliction of duty in reporting the news. How has the City of Boston moved ahead in terms of diversity when Veterans for Peace, other advocates of non-violence, and the LGBT community are barred from participation in the breakfast and parade while an entire political establishment professes impotence. Indeed, minimal inquiry would reveal that recipients of the Bronze Star and a mother of a concerned serviceperson during the Iraq war were manhandled from the Convention Center for attempting to address the audience. When will the Globe ever give us the rest of the story?
South Boston Residents for Peace
Boston is the capital of liberalism–a tradition we have followed since we were a British colony in revolt. So it was not surprising that the two finalists in the Boston mayoral race were liberals–or, as we like to be called now, progressives.
This past mayoral race exposed a kink in the progressive movement, however. Progressives better hope that that kink does not destroy the progressive movement from the inside out.
The kink became apparent in the mayoral run-off race between Rep. Marty Walsh and Councilor John Connolly. There was a definitive demographic difference between Walsh’s supporters and Connolly’s supporters. These two different demographics formed the Democratic coalition that swept Obama into office twice. However, a coalitional shift is underway–the kink in the progressive armor is ominous for the Democratic Party’s future.
In 2012, Obama received 93% of the African-America vote; 71% of the Latino vote; 73% of the Asian-American vote. Furthermore, Obama received 60% of the vote from people who did not graduate high school. These numbers show that Obama, and, hence, the Democratic Party, have a firm foothold with minorities–particularly working-class minorities. This represents only one component of his coalition. Educated or professional people–both white and people of color–constitute an integral part of the Democratic coalition. It was necessary for Obama to keep educated professionals in his corner to overcome the 39-59% deficit in the white vote that Obama faced. Among those who have completed post-graduate study, Obama won 55% to 42%.
But once again we return to that word “kink.” And here is the kink in the Democratic Coalition: Educated white Obama supporters dropped by 5%. Romney won educated white women 52% to 48%. The coalition that brought the Democrats into power in the House and Senate in ’06, and peaked in ’08 with the election of President Obama, is starting to shift to the right. The coalition of working-class minorities and educated whites has been the Democratic formula for success throughout the past two decades. And that winning coalition is waning, shifting to the right (well, the educated white segment of the Democratic Coalition is shifting to the right).
The heart-wrenching break-up was apparent in the Boston Mayoral Race despite the fact that both candidates were Democrats. Marty put together a coalition of working-class whites and blacks. He is a transformational figure in that he was able to pull all working class people together, despite their ethnicity, into a winning coalition.
John Connolly did well with educated people, particularly educated whites. Connolly’s supporters were particularly critical of Walsh’s support of unions.
The incessant criticism of unions by the Connolly people–their irrational fear of unions–is something the Democrats should be worried about. It is obvious that the Democratic Coalition is splintering. And in analyzing the Boston Mayoral Race, one can see why the two components of the coalition are starting to divorce.
The educated whites that supported Connolly think they have no investment in a party or candidate that came up through the unions and remains a strong supporter of unions. They fear that if the unions get their way the city will be bankrupt and big business will be driven out of town. The Democrats need these educated whites and they need union support as well. The Party depends on donations from both components of the coalition, and the massive ground game union men and women carry out exceptionally well.
This fear of organized labor on the part of educated whites who are Democrats but are beginning to leave the party is a national phenomenon, and the Boston Mayoral Race has elucidated the problem.
The solution–the mending of the Democratic Coalition–rests on the shoulders of the men and women of organized labor. Rid your local of corruption; get involved in your union; demonstrate to the country that unions are not selfish institutions, but a necessary bulwark against the greed of big corporations; Fight to get unions into retail giants like Wal-Mart; demonstrate the compassion union men and women have for all working people, not just unionized working-people; in fact, unions should be more effective at helping non-union shops organize if they so desire.
The only way to heal the division in the party is to show educated white Democrats that unions are helping to promote the same principles that they subscribe to–mainly, stopping corporate greed and corruption. The unions must re-brand themselves as the final defense in the attempt of big business–avaricious billionaire CEO’s–to turn this country into Ayn Rand’s dream: a completely laissez faire country with no social safety nets; all New Deal legislation repealed; a corporatocracy. Our principles are one, so let us fight to keep the Democratic Party one.